Foreign Rights – Management

A foreign rights agent or agency facilitates the publication of local titles in different languages and territories all over the world. Have you ever read a book by a Russian author, a French novelist or a Brazilian poet in English and wondered how you have been able to do so? Books do not grow legs and get themselves translated and published overseas! Someone has to work as an intermediary between publishers all over the world and that is where we come in.

As I began writing this article, I suddenly had the image of the squirrels that populate the park opposite our office in the height of their productivity; collecting food and twigs, scurrying here and there to make sure the necessary is completed before the seasons change. I’d like to have a team of squirrels to assist me in the many ongoing and daily tasks that foreign rights management requires. Alas, I only have the support of my fellow team…which is thankfully more than sufficient to stay on top of paperwork and sales reports.

As we’ve already mentioned, we act as an intermediary between publishers worldwide, enabling partnerships which bring fiction and non-fiction titles of great interest and importance to all parts of the globe. You may also be aware that many of the larger publishing houses have their own in-house foreign rights departments to handle this. However, we are still the most aptly positioned workforce to realize these partnerships a lot of the time and this is shown by our successful representation of some of the biggest players in publishing, HarperCollins, Wiley & HCI Books, to name but a few, for the sale of their foreign rights in the french language worldwide.

The reason for this is because the sale of foreign rights is a complicated procedure which requires extensive knowledge of legal, financial and business models on an international scale. In addition to the never-ending drafting of reports, account processing and signing and renewal of contracts, there is need for continual updates and negotiation and finalization of offers, all of which is undertaken by my colleagues and I on a daily basis. It’s no walk in the park (opposite the office), that’s for sure!

To provide readers with an idea of the work load involved, we list the the various stages of the management process below:


1. UPDATE – We ask our partners to keep us updated with information related to their books: sales figures, awards, press etc. We, in turn, keep our corresponding agents & foreign publishers updated.

2. NEGOTIATE – When we receive an offer, we negotiate the best deal for our partners. With 30 years experience and a proven track-record, coupled with the insight of 20 well-positioned corresponding agents, we strive to make sure all parties get the best out of every contract signed.

3. FINALIZE – We discuss every offer in a weekly editorial committee and continue to negotiate until the sale is finalized.

4. PAPERWORK – Once an offer is accepted, we draft up contracts and handle all payments. For payments to be made internationally, a lot of paperwork is required – we assist our publishers and authors with this process.

5. ACCOUNTS – We collect monies, process sales reports, avoid withholding taxes where applicable by processing tax certificates, keep an eye on exchange rates and ensure that the terms of licences sold are respected.

6. RENEWAL – We encourage contract renewals before expiration and renegotiate the new licence terms.

Read more about the services we offer here.